The dog needs 40 essential nutrients. In this context, essential means that the dog cannot produce them himself and therefore has to consume them regularly through food. There are also non-essential nutrients: the dog can build them up on their own from the ingredients in the food. The right amount of the required nutrients is therefore important to ensure that your dog is fed a balanced and healthy diet.
At around 9 kcal per gram, fat is the most energy-rich nutrient for dogs. But how much fat a dog should eat depends primarily on the following factors:
Individual fluctuations are also possible: it is not unusual for the energy requirements of two dogs of the same size and age to vary by up to 30%.
Fat consists of different fatty acids – some of the family of omega-3 fatty acids are only essential in certain stages of life. The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and AHA, for example, are important for the development of the brain in puppyhood.
Carbohydrates are not essential for the dog: the dog’s body can form them itself from the carbon frameworks of the amino acids. However, this is a particularly complex metabolic process, which is why it can make sense to add easily digestible carbohydrates to the feed ration when the body is performing well, such as pregnancy or suckling. Be sure to consult your veterinarian about this.
The dog gets carbohydrates mainly from grain and potato starch: If these foods are heated, the carbohydrates are easily digestible for dogs.
Potatoes are good sources of energy. © stock.adobe.com/glenkar
Body tissue, which has to be renewed again and again, consumes a lot of proteins. The dog needs a third of the protein requirement for the maintenance and regeneration of the hair and skin. Proteins are made up of amino acids, ten of which are essential for dogs.
Whether the dog gets these from animal or vegetable products is actually irrelevant. However, a purely plant-based diet cannot guarantee that the dog will actually receive all of the amino acids it needs. This must be taken into account, especially with a vegetarian dog diet.
Minerals are divided into bulk elements and trace elements. The dog needs quantitative elements every gram, whereas with trace elements an amount in the milligram range is sufficient. All important minerals can be found in the table below.
Mass elementsFunctionCalciumStability of the bones (with phosphorus) Muscle functionBlood coagulationPhosphorusStability of the bones (with calcium) Energy metabolism of the cellsMagnesium Metabolism of the energy-supplying nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) Sodium & chlorideRegulation of the fluid balancePotassiumMaintenance of the intracellular fluid balance
Trace elementsFunctionIronOxygen transport in the bloodZincImmune functionStability of the connective and supporting tissueCopperPigment formation in skin and hairEnergy metabolism in the cellIodineGrowth and regeneration of body tissueManganeseSkeleton developmentFunction of the nervesSelenCo-factor of the body’s own antioxidants that protect the cells
Some minerals are important for a stable skeleton. © stock.adobe.com/Christian Müller
Vitamins are essential micronutrients for our dogs. They are water-soluble or fat-soluble. The important difference: water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body and must therefore be taken in daily through food.
The following table gives an overview of the various vitamins and their function. Vitamin C has a special position here: dogs can produce it themselves.
Water-soluble vitaminsFunctionThiamine (B1) Energy and carbohydrate metabolismRiboflavin (B2) Energy metabolismNiacin (B3) Formation of skin lipidsWater balance of the skinPantothenic acid (B5) Energy production from fatPyridoxine (B6) Among other things, blood sugar formation and formation of red blood cells (Biotin and skin strength B8) Strength of the skin ) Important for tissues that divide quickly (especially during pregnancy) Cobalamin (B12) The growth body’s own protein synthesis Formation of red blood cells
Fat-soluble vitaminsFunctionVitamin A process of cornification of the skinVisual abilityImmune functionVitamin EAntioxidant on the cell membranes (with selenium) Vitamin DRegulation of the calcium-phosphorus metabolismBone mineralizationVitamin Kblood coagulation
Dogs cannot digest dietary fiber, but fiber is important for them too: The fiber stimulates the intestinal activity and ensures regular digestion. So they ideally round off a balanced dog diet.
Only if a dog is adequately supplied with all these nutrients will it be fed a balanced and healthy diet. The best way to ensure that your dog receives the right amount of these substances should be discussed with the veterinarian.